In a workshop that I was leading this week, one teacher was so excited about the work we were doing she blurted out, “I am more excited about planning for next year than I am for summer vacation!” While we all need our summer vacation to recharge and have fun, most of you can probably relate to this. All teachers reflect throughout the school year, but especially when a new year is in sight and we have some downtime to really consider how we want to make the changes that will have the most positive impact on our students. If you’re like me, you love your thoughtful and meaningful lesson planning to look great as well. I am not ashamed to admit that I have been known to order a new lesson plan book (and sticky notes and colored sharpies and…) in the spring prior to a new school year. But my pretty, color-coded planner is not where all the hard work gets done. In fact, my planning is anything but pretty because I am usually surrounded by piles of resources such as state standards, district curriculum maps, books, journals, and past years lesson planners. BUT as so many of these resources are now going digital, so too is my curriculum planning.
For me, the best things about planning digitally are:
Flexibility…being able to edit endlessly and save copies of multiple versions with the click of a button!
Efficiency: Linking the resources you plan to use all in one document and cutting/pasting from a variety of sources is a huge time-saver!
Planning digitally can be done with whichever apps you are comfortable with and use most often or you can take digital planning as an opportunity to learn a new app or program. I know teachers who use: online calendars, live word processing documents or apps like Padlet or Google Keep. My favorite way to do this is by inserting a table into a Google Slide deck and using a new slide for each curriculum quarter and/or month. I like the visual nature of slides and the “Share” and “Commenting” features which allow me to share and get feedback from my grade-level and content area colleagues.
Here’s an example from the template I use:
(In this template, I have begun to insert details for the Positive Classroom Culture unit I plan to use to kick-off next school year. I am really excited to implement Smart Starts from Marlena Hebern and Joe Corippo’s new book, Eduprotocol Field Guide. Their book outlines tons of great ways to start the school year with a focus on building positive classroom culture and their website has lots of shared templates including this Freyer Model one by Kimberly Voge. I’ve also linked a great blog post on Icebreakers from Jennifer Gonzalez.)
To make your own copy of this template, go to File>Make a Copy and personalize it for your needs. You can insert additional slides for planning by month or week, add rows or columns, and link your own content standards and resources. For each unit I teach, I copy and paste my standards to a linked corresponding Google Sheet and I use the Insert>Check Box feature to note the standards for each unit.
If you have other methods for planning digitally (or otherwise) that you are willing to share, please comment and feel free to send along examples I can share with others!